Beyond electrification for development: Solar home systems and social reproduction in rural Solomon Islands

Stephanie Ketterer Hobbis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Based on an in-depth examination of the acquisition, use, maintenance and deterioration of solar home systems in a village in Malaita, Solomon Islands, this article challenges the analytical focus of current debates on electrification in Pacific Island countries – why Pacific Island countries have not yet sufficiently electrified to achieve their development goals. Alternatively it examines what is, how, in this case, rural Solomon Islanders have integrated already available electricity into their daily lives. This perspectival shift highlights how rural Solomon Islanders have developed an energy identity that corresponds to their needs, interests and values, rather than those of national and international actors. It re-emphasises the struggles of national and international electrification initiatives in rural environments, linking them to a broader distrust in the motivations of external actors. At the same time, it reveals how, throughout their life cycle, rural solar home systems have become integrated into processes of social reproduction rather than development aspirations. Contrary to dominant debates, rural solar home systems matter most in the opportunities that they provide for reciprocal exchange than for what the electricity enables them to do.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAsia Pacific Viewpoint
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • development
  • electrification
  • social reproduction
  • solar home systems
  • Solomon Islands

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